who was 125 pounds of love. But we only had ten years together before he got intestinal cancer and decided in spite of surgery that it was his time to go...
Here is his epitaph. It is 3 years since Bailey died yet my eyes tear whenever I think about him...
The kid next door
Put a rose on my fence
Because Bailey died.
Bailey was my dog.
He loved to smell flowers.
He loved to lie beside me
And pretend Tv was important.
He once brought me his pillow
To put behind my head on a day that I was tired.
He also knew
How to laugh,and How to play jokes
He lived for ten years at my side
And a big part of me has died
I cried when I had to say
?Stop his suffering put
Him to sleep.?
We couldnt help him any other way
I only hope he dreams of me
And in his loving heart forgives me
For taking away his life!
And that he can sense the tears
Which still fall from my eyes
Whenever I think of something
He did to show me how much
I meant to him!
Yes a new "pup" now shares my home and heart but Bailey will be part of me till maybe we meet in some other world.
One clear midnight in August, 1999 while driving the antique Ford, a wobbly, ancient orange and white dog was seen in the road ahead.
It was meandering, limping, staggering actually, across LeJeune Road.
I pulled over to assess the old fellow. No dog should be on the streets, much less on a fast paced road at night.
Emaciated to a shocking degree; not at all like this later picture depicts.
I pulled over the car, intercepted the confused creature and cupped his head between my hands.
Barney looked at me with vacant, dimmed eyes as I tried to address his dog tag in the dimness of the distant street lamp.
I picked him up. As light at a feather; hardly more than skin on bones.
The dog's lower eyelids hung away from the orbs. A canine death camp escapee?
Owner tag on the dog collar gave his name as "Barney" with the name of his human keeper and a local phone number.
Good! The old dog was not intentionally abandoned. But the starvation? I was angered that anyone could let their dog deteriorate to such a degree.
Starving to death and already in the last stage before final collapse.
I bundled Barney into the Model T Ford coupe and drove home.
The dog was famished, so eager to eat anything and everything I passed to him that my fingers got nipped. I moderated the quantity of food to avoid sickening the canine with too much too fast.
One could not imagine he would last through the night. His heart sounded a thumpeta SQUISH, thumpeta SQUISH. A serious heart murmur from a leaky valve in a compensatory enlarged heart.
So loud the palpitations that the old heart could be heard unaided two feet away in a quiet room.
Present also were all the common signs of great old age: Arthritis, clouded eyes and partial deafness.
Calling the owner's phone number got only a recording machine.
Five days later my call was returned by the room mate of Barney's young owner.
"Oh- that's my friend's dog. He's a student pilot and he's out of town
until Saturday. Sick? Well the dog is more like, super ollllld, than
sick. It's over sixteen. I'll tell Harry to call you."
Saturday came. And Barney, whom every morning I still expected would be found quietly expired at the foot of my bed, was doing better!
He was settling in to our home. Still wobbly, but a tail-wagging love festival. Completely trusting and affectionate, serene.
On the other side of the balance, Barney was not gaining weight. Food seemed to shoot through his system with no nourishing effect at all. His hunger was insatiable.
Barney's young master, "Harry" at last called on Saturday afternoon.
"Yes, he's my dog. Starved? It's old age but the real problem in Barney owes to an inborn digestive defect. 'Pancreatic insufficiency'. My dad was an MD. He did the tests and diagnosed the problem soon after we adopted the dog from Dade County Animal Control when I was five years old. Since as long as I can remember we mix pork-pancreas powder in his chow Since coming to live with me Barney has gotten more prone to wandering. The gate was left open by mistake."
I asked Harry how often he fed his dog. Answer: once per day; it was
always this way.
I suggested that a number of small meals might be better for an aged dog.
Why is Barney allowed to fall into such poor health? I asked Harry.
"Why do I have him? Well, it's time to put him down I guess. My Mom died from cancer a few months ago. She took care of him most of his years. And our dad; he died many years ago. No one else in the family wants Barney. I got Barney because I was the only option."
"I fly, I go to school. So does my room mate. Barney stays full time in the back yard with my friend's dog."
"I'll come right over and take him off your hands."
I proposed a different plan:
"Harry, why don't you let ME keep Barney- to give him the special care and quality time you cannot provide. You can visit the old guy whenever you like."
"OK!!!" came the guilt-relieved reply.
Harry came over that day, bringing Barney's $100-per-bottle medicine: that freeze dried, ground pork pancreas necessary for Barney's digestion of dietary fats.
With the powdered enzymes mixed into his chow; six small meals per day instead of one lump sum, Barney gained strength and weight. Nearly ten pounds, up to 28 pounds.
In a few months Barney reconstituted to the form you see in the picture.
Barney lived with us for four years more, until Oct. 2003. Three of the
four years were good years for Barney, and for his quality of life. He
taught me the love that only a dog can give so freely. I taught Barney to
climb stairs so he could decide whether or not join us and our other pup, hang-tail Petey, to watch TV in an upstairs bedroom.
What a feat of strength and bravery Barney achieved! The old fellow had never seen stairs before.
Our staircase is uniquely full-floating, semi spiral. In Barney's eyes not only did that not figure in his view of the regular world, but it is insanely steep to a leggy, 20-odd pound, muscle-atrophied, stiff-jointed old dog.
Yet, in a few months he'd mastered his fear literally one step and retreat
at a time.
I'd carry my friend when i was present, but if no aid was in sight,
Barney insisted... insisted! upon climbing up and down those stairs. One
Pause, pant, gather energy.
Sometimes a splayed-leg collapse.
If he could not get back on track, that was the only time Barney ever barked for attention.
Barn's later life was always that way: one uncertain step at a time.
With that resolute will that true dogs possess in perfected degree rarely seen in mere people, Barney knew what he wanted.
Barney went on, and mostly up, right until the end of his days one year ago.
My payback for saving Barney? A thousand kisses, plus that satisfaction of having extended a life.
When Barney at last died at unusually ripe age it was not his stage five
heart murmur, nor any of the other infirmities that doomed him. The cause was me: I failed to watch wander-prone Barney carefully enough.
One dark night Barney slipped outside, through an open back door.
Being poor of sight and equilibrium, Barney stumbled over the side and fell to the bottom of an empty swimming pool. I found him there hours later after an exhaustive search of the neighborhood. Right in our own back yard pool, flailing, too injured to yelp.
That four foot or ten foot fall to hard concrete did not kill him or even break any old, calcified joints. More cruelly, Barney suffered brain injury; either a hemorrhage or stroke in the great, hard fall. He could no longer walk at all. There was equilibrium, no leg coordination.
In guilt and penance and to hold off the inevitable, I nursed Barney all
day, all night.
I taught him to walk again by making a sling out of old blanket cloth with two holes for the front legs to poke through. With this orthopedic aid I earned many a backache, supporting, balancing Barney during the
next month, teaching him to walk again.
In two months a plateau came in that recovery. Barneywalked unaided again. Confounding the vet's prognosis, that dog!
Barney again exploring his environs as nosily as ever. But, Barn could not, for the most part, launch himself off the floor.
I needed to be by him always to help him get up. And so maybe...
..I should have put him down after all.
Nine months later, I finally did euthanize Barney. A calcified leg joint
came apart and there was no other option but to kill him.
I would've made that choice earlier if Barney had quit loving to eat or quit loving me. That, you see, never happened.
So, for eleven full months I slept on the concrete floor of the garage with one hand on Barney, so i would wake in the night if he needed to go out. Or just get up.
Old age does not bring deep sleep even to dogs, you know. I came
to sleep as lightly, restlessly as Barney.
The difficult decision to euthanize was an eventuality I'd so much wished
Disaster again: The veterinarian botched the injection of
pentothal. It would not flow in because the needle missed the vain.
Poor Barney writhed in discomfort.
"Let me try another leg". And so the doctor shaved another leg and
searched with difficulty for a good vein. A partial hit this time:
poison went in but slowly, too slowly. Again, Barney struggled against the pain.
But evidently also, he struggled not to die.
The doctor; humiliated, apologetic in the usual doctor kind of way: "in all my years I've never had this difficulty", fumbled out comfortless words, after the kicking and convulsive reactions slowly faded away twenty seconds later.
Yes, I saved a life for four years longer than would otherwise have been the case.
Yet I know, too, that I let my buddy down in the fall into the empty pool.
And again we let Barney down at his end, at midnight at the all-night veterinary clinic
Despite these sad reflections I feel not so much guilt, but remorse at
having to let my dog go.
I still miss my Barney. I miss, and tear as I write about my deaf, lame, dim-eyed champion.
Don't you miss your lost dogs, too?
No matter over what span of years the overwhelming remembrance is that you once had someone in your life who was good and pure and inviolably honest...
...so long as you didn't leave human food unattended within canine reach.